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What is Bowen Technique?

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Health Notes
Everything you need to know about Bowen Technique
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You probably clicked on this because you’ve got no idea what on earth Bowen Technique is, let alone what it does, but to start I will tell you this: it works. Otherwise known as Bowen Therapy, here is all you need to know about the holistic treatment that can treat everything from back pain to taking stress down a peg.

What is Bowen Technique?

Named ‘Bowen’ after Tom Bowen, an Australian guy who developed this healing technique that works on the body’s fascia (the soft connective tissue that lies just underneath the skin), it can release restrictions prompting a healing response in the body. “Whether you suffer from back pain, headaches, IBS, infertility, stress, muscle strain, or anything else, Bowen will help your body do what it can to fix itself,” says Michael Patrick, Director of Bowen Therapy UK who I go to see at Triyoga in Shoreditch.

But how? The Bowen therapist uses their hands to perform a series of mini moves – some of which can barely be felt. It’s very gentle and provides the body with a message to act upon. “The moves instigate a release that is integrated within the whole body,” says Patrick, “This causes a change that the body recognizes as healthier, so it lets go of tension and associated stress.” Then the healing begins.

What does a treatment entail?

You lie on a massage bed for around 45 minutes to an hour, with sets of these little movements being performed all over your body. Many tend to centre around the back, but it depends upon the area that the therapist is aiming to treat. It all seems a bit of a mystery to me – who knows what area sorts out which ache or pain – but it’s your aim to keep focused on what your body is feeling, rather than wondering what's going on around you.

Another notable idiosyncracy of this treatment is that after each set of moves, the therapist leaves the room for a period of time – it feels like a few minutes – which can be slightly disconcerting when you’ve not experienced it before. “We don’t want the client to stay alerted to our presence,” Patrick says, because this would trigger a state of stress (that is, if you’re not already in one), which inhibits the healing response. In this state, our rest-repair response is given little time to cleanse and repair the effects of our daily lives, let alone deal with injury or illness.

What it did for me

My experience was so good that I’m continuing to have the technique fortnightly. For a month, I went every week – the results are accumulative – and saw a huge difference in a few different elements of my body.

The first was my alignment and how I hold myself. In each appointment, your therapist scrutinizes how your body naturally falls - so whether your shoulders are hunched, how your posture is, and so on – and then gets to work where he sees fit. After four treatments, I felt like I was walking taller.

The second was in my jaw, a place that it’s common to hold stress and past emotions; Patrick did a few movements around my face, neck and jaw that released years’ worth of pent-up toxins. So much so that I could feel a strange sensation washing over my face and even got a headache on one occasion. Patrick warned me that I could feel emotional in the days that followed – and he was right. I felt miserable a few days after and even cried a few times; but at least my jaw felt that little bit looser #swingsandroundabouts.

And the third was the complete reduction of stress. After my first treatment, I was a total space cadet – so calm that not even rush hour could touch me – and I still experience a similar state of relaxation seven treatments down the line. Patrick acknowledges that it’s common to experience this, particularly as he can target the areas that tend to store stress (like my jaw, for example) and release it.

I went without having any particular aches and pains – aside from a little shoulder pain – but the technique can be even more effective on those who do. “You tend to see the most dramatic change in those suffering from pain,” says Patrick. “Bowen prompts the nerves to relax and normalize, or fire less, and therefore your pain reduces too.”

What you need to know

Wear loose clothing or fitness gear. You’ll be much more comfortable.

You can find a therapist in your area at www.bowen-technique.co.uk and to see Michael Patrick head to www.bowentherapyuk.com.

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